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Old 05-23-08, 09:43 PM   #1
talleymonster
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Awesome Bike Mechanic!

I got a Trek 7500FX off of Craigslist a couple of weeks ago. It's in pretty good shape, with a few things that need to be addressed. It's still perfectly ridable, but I'm going to repair/replace/upgrade as I go. Today I just wanted to dial in the derailleurs and my brakes. I don't have any experience with derailleurs and I just made them worse when I tried to adjust them.

I saw an ad on Craigslist the other day for a mobile bike mechanic. I was hesitant at first, but upon doing further research and checking out his website I decided to send him an email. He quoted me for 20$ to inspect/adjust both derailleurs and the brakes. Sweet.

He showed up today promptly at 4:30 as he said he would. He had a nice toolkit and a beefy, yet portable stand. He was very professional, very friendly, and made it a point to show me everything that he was doing. I now have a much better understanding of derailleurs and brakes. Sure I have a repair manual with pictures, but I'm much more of a visual learner.

Anyways, not only did he dial in my brakes and derailleurs, but he also: trued my wheels, adjusted my seat to fit me correctly and installed a seat post shim (stem was a tad too small), cleaned and lubed my chain, and gave my entire bike an overall inspection. He pointed out a couple things that I may want to think about replacing and/or upgrading.

He's just started this business and I hope he succeeds. I was amazed at his low price. I asked him about how business was and why his price was so cheap. He told me that he's keeping it simple right now as he's just starting out. He already has all the tools he needs. He works out of his truck (or his garage if it's too intricate of a repair). His overhead is pretty low, therefore he can offer lower prices. He seemed to really enjoy working on my bike and explaining things to me. He told me anytime I have a question to shoot him an email so he can offer me tips, services, or point me in the right direction. Anyways, the guy is awesome and I would recommend him to anybody in the SW Las Vegas area. I grabbed a stack of his business cards that I plan to hand out to everybody I know who rides.

Just thought I'd share my good experience with everybody here!
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Old 05-23-08, 10:03 PM   #2
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So...why didn't you post anything about how to get hold of him?

Eric
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Old 05-23-08, 10:23 PM   #3
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So...why didn't you post anything about how to get hold of him?

Eric
Oops!

CraigsList Ad

BuyCycleTrader

His name is Terrence.
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Old 05-23-08, 10:24 PM   #4
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Awesome. Don't ever lose track of this guy.
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Old 05-23-08, 10:52 PM   #5
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Awesome. Don't ever lose track of this guy.
Already programmed him into my phone and saved his email address.
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Old 05-24-08, 09:04 AM   #6
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I have a question regarding replacement parts. Say if someone wants a new cassette, will this guy sell it to you and install it, or does he only do repairs?

As a single person will he be able to order parts wholesale?

This is a very cool business idea.
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Old 05-24-08, 09:28 AM   #7
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I'm sure a single person can still buy wholesale, just not from everyone. You need a resaler ID and for his sake he should have liability insurance and a company name/front.

Quality Bicycle Products requires a picture of your storefront for you to open an account. Other companies are less stringent. If you look through dealer listings at a trade show you'll see some which are probably non-bike-biz people ("Charlie's Basement Bikes" and the like). Some of them will open "accounts" with less picky wholesalers.

I hope for Terrence's sake he makes a profit. Being nice is good but he has to make money to stay in business.

cdr
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Old 05-24-08, 09:58 AM   #8
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I hope for Terrence's sake he makes a profit. Being nice is good but he has to make money to stay in business.

cdr
Truth.

I wonder how he can make a mobile shop profitable, what with gas prices, vehicle expenses and travel time. $10/hr is a barely livable wage in most places.
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Old 05-24-08, 10:23 AM   #9
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That's a great story. I hope the mechanic that helped you does well in his new business start. I don't know why there aren't any more Craigslist mechanics out there with the amount of knowledgable people in this forum.

There was one guy in my city that had advertised his bike mechanic services on Craigslist that I used once. He charged me half of what I would've been charged at the bike shop. In fact, he had itemized all his repair services at half of what the big bike shop in the city had their published service price list set at. And when I talked to him, he admitted to me that he was making even more as a Craigslist mechanic than he was making when he was a bike mechanic at the bike shop.
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Old 05-24-08, 10:35 AM   #10
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I have a question regarding replacement parts. Say if someone wants a new cassette, will this guy sell it to you and install it, or does he only do repairs?

As a single person will he be able to order parts wholesale?

This is a very cool business idea.
Yes. He is working on being a distributer of bike parts. He hopes to have a page on his site in which to buy parts. When you order the part, he shows up at your house to install it on your bike. He is working with a lawyer right now for the insurance/liability.
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Old 05-24-08, 10:37 AM   #11
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I hope for Terrence's sake he makes a profit. Being nice is good but he has to make money to stay in business.
I agree. I think as time goes he will have to adjust his prices a bit, but I will still use him. He'll probably still be cheaper than going to the LBS...and I'll get to learn from him as well.
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Old 05-24-08, 10:51 AM   #12
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I agree. I think as time goes he will have to adjust his prices a bit, but I will still use him. He'll probably still be cheaper than going to the LBS...and I'll get to learn from him as well.
I think that's the key, the learning/interactive bit. First of all, he sounds very people oriented, i.e. he isn't swearing at the customer as soon as they walk out the door. Who knows, maybe he does swear at them, but it seems he could have chosen something very different to do if he was like that.

For those who appreciate some personal attention, such a person is great. No matter how much you teach someone, usually the customer will hit a point where the customer simply doesn't want to do the work. I know *how* to change a timing belt in a car, but I pay someone else to do it. I do my own brakes, but, given the choice, I've left suspension work to someone else. But if someone gave me a bit more attention when I asked them a question, I'll bring my work them that person first.

I hope that his business works out. With much lower overhead (lease/truck payments will be lower than rent, no utilities except fuel and maintenance) he can try and offset his limited availability by using the internet. He can only make $10/hour (or whatever - I didn't check the links). But if he sells expensive stuff at 15% over cost, he can sell a lot of parts while he's out doing repair work (and do a full keystone on repair parts that he stocks).

Oh, I looked at his links. $25/hour. Seems a bit low, but that's based on CT prices. And he spells brakes "breaks". Arg.

cdr
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Old 05-26-08, 05:40 AM   #13
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Well this is interesting. I wish nothing but luck to the mobile bike mechanic. I was in the bike business for more than 30 years - left in 1994. I knew that it was time to go when the following happened. At my Dad's bike shop, we charged , until 1978, a minimum charge of $3 to install a tube if you walked through the door with the wheel. When I quit, 16 years later, I was charging $5 minimum charge and customers were amazed that I was actually going to charge them labor to fix the wheel.
My point is that labor charges are absolutely archaic in the bike business. It seems that the mobile guy is doing what everyone else did previousely - undercut the price of the established shop. Good, now everyone is happy making no money in the bike business, just like before. As stated, you need to have a business license and lots of insurance too. With gas at about $4 per gallon, how can the guy even break even driving around to his stops , charging $10 per hour ? Even $25. Most repair firms that I have called to my home for plumbing, washing machine work, etc., charge about $100 just for showing up. Then the repair charges start. Being mobile, you do not have property taxes, electricity, heat, etc. like the established independent dealer. However, it seems to me the prototypicla race to the bottom to see who can undercut who and make the least amount of money. It is a fun business if you don't mind making no money in it. By the way, I live in CT too, and have seen many shops disappear in the last 5 to 10 years.
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Old 05-29-08, 05:47 PM   #14
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Bad spelling

It has been updated, spell check did me wrong!

BTW - the BUY Cycle Trader parts catalog will be up soon!

Last edited by TerrenceLP; 05-29-08 at 05:54 PM. Reason: misspelling
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Old 05-29-08, 05:53 PM   #15
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Well this is interesting. However, it seems to me the prototypicla race to the bottom to see who can undercut who and make the least amount of money. It is a fun business if you don't mind making no money in it. By the way, I live in CT too, and have seen many shops disappear in the last 5 to 10 years.
I can understand your point but I did not start this company to become a LBS. We are different in that we cater to every rider and make it a point to promote riding bicycles and not buying them. Our system does make money and through sheer volume we can pay the bills and continue to grow. When a BUY Cycle Trader representative shows up in your town or city, you will see what I mean, we are more than a bike shop, we are the future!
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Old 05-29-08, 06:38 PM   #16
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I love it!! Sort of a Geek Squad for bikes.
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Old 05-30-08, 12:59 AM   #17
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Once in a while I'll see for a mobile mechanic on CL. Awhile back, I contacted some, but they never responded. Now I found one (not mobile) that I really like (great prices, great guy). Too bad I don't live closer to him. Now if I can only find a doctor, CPA, and car mechanic like him . . .
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Old 05-30-08, 01:32 AM   #18
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I've been lucky that my buddy used to be a bike mechanic, and is always willing to fix things up, lend me tools, and show me how any repairs are done at the cost of a case of beer. He also has tons of random parts lying around. He's a mechanical engineer now.
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Old 05-30-08, 03:36 PM   #19
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I wish the mobile service person luck, but "volume" (esp of repairs) does not a successful business make. There are only so many hours in the day, and charging $20 for what must have been an hour of on site work plus travel time will not ultimately pay the bills. There's a limit to how much people will pay for convenience as well.

You are on the right track in selling merchandise, though you might find limitations as to distributors you can work with if you can't show a bricks and mortar presence. It takes only a few minutes to sell and install a saddle that can net you that same $20 you charged for an hour of your time. On the other hand, stocking inventory is no picnic, and not everyone will wait for you to get their part in.

I ran a mobile repair and bicycle tour support service for 8 years and had some success, but could have used better funding at first and should have outsourced all the financial aspects. Don't try to run the business nuts and bolts if you can pay someone less than what you can net doing what you are good at and enjoy.

Hopefully Las Vegas will be a large enough market that you can get the amount of income you need to be successful. For whatever reason several previous attempts at expanded marketing of the mobile bicycle service idea have not resulted in much activity.

Last edited by cny-bikeman; 05-30-08 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 05-31-08, 01:04 AM   #20
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Wow. some unexpected responses in here. I really don't care for the LBS. I like what this guy is doing. Bringing the service to the client. It's a great idea, and I wish him good luck. It's hard staying in business and LBS need to realize that they don't own the customer. In the end, the customer is the big boss.

If this guy were in my town, I would never go to the LBS except to non-service type of things. Why would I? When I can get great service at better prices than the LBS, and I can learn something about my bike? The only argument to going to the LBS is the old guilt trip of support your local bike shop. Um no. I'm supporting the creative thinkers and hard workers that don't ask for a handout.

Keep up the good work and keep on advertising in Craigslist. It works.
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Old 06-02-08, 09:04 AM   #21
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I want to thank all of you for the kind words and keep spreading the word! Our online shop should be open mid month; I'll announce it here once we are live.

I'd also like to comment on the last few posts, because I love learning from other people!


cny-bikeman successful.?! It all depends what your goals are, mine is changing the industry for the better. By allowing our company to grow modestly and by using methods from my past experiences in other industries, we have a business model in place that will, in time , sweep the nation for two main reasons:

1. Unsurpassed customer service and a unique personal touch.
2. Personal ownership and true freedom for BUY Cycle Trader employees.

This means we are addressing the main problems with our industry on both sides of the fence. Keep in mind that I'm stereo typing and there are great LBS and guys that run them out there - I just never worked for any of them ;-) So in short we are not looking to become rich over night, but create change in an industry that is choking itself and failing to adapt to the times.

bellweatherman nailed it on the head!
At the end of the day we offer so much more you'd be hard pressed to find a better, more well rounded service than BUY Cycle Trader. We also cater to the lifestyle by promoting meet up groups, events, seminars, etc... Our goal is to have a trained BUY Cycle Trader representative in all major cities in the coming months and years.
So without spilling all the cool beans, the wind of change is coming and it smells wonderful!


Peace and Love -TerrenceLP
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Old 06-02-08, 11:15 AM   #22
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$20? Amazing someone can pay for gas, time, supplies, etc. and actually come out ahead.
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Old 06-02-08, 04:09 PM   #23
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$20? Amazing someone can pay for gas, time, supplies, etc. and actually come out ahead.
I know very little about bike mechanics - I'm just learning as I go on my bike, which has had nothing wrong with it so far , but I would imagine you could run that type of service off an xtracycle. Now, imagine that. Alturnatively if you need the car to commute long distances, I'm pretty sure you could find a nice, cheap - small gas efficient hatchback and mount a roof rack, being able to keep all your tools and supplies in the back.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't see the need for a big gas hungry truck for this kind of work. That alone would contribute greatly towards the profitability.
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Old 06-09-08, 03:22 PM   #24
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I know very little about bike mechanics - I'm just learning as I go on my bike, which has had nothing wrong with it so far , but I would imagine you could run that type of service off an xtracycle. Now, imagine that. Alturnatively if you need the car to commute long distances, I'm pretty sure you could find a nice, cheap - small gas efficient hatchback and mount a roof rack, being able to keep all your tools and supplies in the back.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't see the need for a big gas hungry truck for this kind of work. That alone would contribute greatly towards the profitability.
Sorry, it is simply not possible to charge low labor prices, add travel time and still turn a profit for the mechanic if your only income is labor and parts. You need to have accessories available to sell, and that takes more space than a hatchback has to offer. Even just the selection of tire sizes you need takes significant room. I used a minivan with a roof rack and car top carrier, and that was just big enough (seats removed, built-in workbench in the back).
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Old 06-09-08, 03:42 PM   #25
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I want to thank all of you for the kind words and keep spreading the word! Our online shop should be open mid month; I'll announce it here once we are live.

I'd also like to comment on the last few posts, because I love learning from other people!


cny-bikeman successful.?! It all depends what your goals are, mine is changing the industry for the better. By allowing our company to grow modestly and by using methods from my past experiences in other industries, we have a business model in place that will, in time , sweep the nation for two main reasons:

1. Unsurpassed customer service and a unique personal touch.
2. Personal ownership and true freedom for BUY Cycle Trader employees.

This means we are addressing the main problems with our industry on both sides of the fence. Keep in mind that I'm stereo typing and there are great LBS and guys that run them out there - I just never worked for any of them ;-) So in short we are not looking to become rich over night, but create change in an industry that is choking itself and failing to adapt to the times.[b]


Peace and Love -TerrenceLP

That sounds great, and I support your philosophy entirely. I offered outstanding quality and service and had plenty of freedom but my point is that your goals are unlikely to be reached long term with the rates noted by the OP. You can't look at $20 an hour onsite and just multiply that by 8 hours a day and think you are going to make that kind of gross, let alone net. You have to add in the significant cost of setting appointments, travel time, spaces between appointments, etc. I would consider a mobile service to be wildly successful if in a 10 hour booking day you are able to get in 6 paid hours of appointments. If you make any kind of decent income your marginal tax rate (including paying full FICA) is going to take 30% off your income after expenses. Even selling parts has it's downfalls - you can never sell everything you buy and most people don't want to wait to get something in a few days or a week (or more if your supplier is out of stock).

To have a chance at viability I would say that your labor output would need to be closer to $40 per hour than $20. A fast mechanic would not find that a challenge, and as a consumer I would expect to pay bike shop prices or even a bit more to save time, hassle and GAS!

Don't mistake me, I wish you luck, and I do think you've at least picked a great time to start such a venture but I would have to see more than I have to believe your business model is viable. Time will tell.
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